When picking a material for your home’s exterior, it can be hard to find one as appealing as vinyl siding. There’s a reason it’s so popular: it’s durable, can withstand many weather conditions and is less costly than other options on the market. However, with everything vinyl siding has going for it, it’s not quite the answer for everyone. While vinyl siding comes with many benefits, it can also bring forth a unique set of problems that you need to consider before you commit to the material.
That being said, there’s a big chance vinyl siding is a good fit for your home. Here are some pros and cons to consider before you commit.
Pro: Vinyl Siding Is Inexpensive
As far as siding materials for your home go, it’s hard to beat vinyl in terms of price. Compared to cement, which is notably more high-end, vinyl can be acquired at close to half the price and can be just as durable. Simply put, vinyl is attractive because it helps you save money, which means you can then use that money for things such as maintenance and installation.
Con: Installation and Maintenance Can Be Complicated
The cost of vinyl siding can be lowered even more if you install it yourself, but that process is no easy feat. Any DIY guide to installing vinyl siding will detail a lengthy, laborious process where you need to look out for countless obstacles to make sure nothing goes wrong. You’ll also need to purchase materials like vinyl-siding blades to pull this off. With all the hammering and nailing and climbing, the process can be a little dangerous and if you do it sloppily or make mistakes, you could leave your home susceptible to issues like water damage and pests. At worst, you might have to install it all over again, this time with a professional’s help.
Over time, siding can age and fade in color, which means you need to be on your toes to make sure it continues doing its job for you. While vinyl is relatively easy to clean, once vinyl starts to age, it can be hard to revive without installing new vinyl, seeing as vinyl doesn’t serve itself well to painting.
Pro: Vinyl Siding Can Increase Your Home’s Value
Since vinyl looks so fresh and clean, it can make your home more attractive to potential buyers. Many people are aware of vinyl’s reputation and know the benefits it can bring, so if these are the type of people looking at your home, vinyl can do wonders for you in the market, as opposed to the shoddy, old-looking wood that might sit underneath.
Con: Vinyl Siding Can Hurt A Historic Home’s Value
That being said, vinyl isn’t always the best option for your home’s value. While buyers will appreciate the fresh aesthetic, covering the wood of your home’s original exterior finish can actually hurt you if your home is historically significant. Make sure you understand the architectural context of your home before you commit to vinyl siding.
Pro: Vinyl Siding Does Not Need to Be Painted
One of the most unique benefits of vinyl siding is another one that ends up saving you money. Compared to other siding materials, which call for an additional layer of paint, the color of vinyl is baked-in, which means you don’t have to paint it on. This brings with it immunity to all the pitfalls of paint. Specifically, it doesn’t get chipped or worn down. If you buy vinyl siding, you will never have to worry about an exterior paint job ever again.
Con: Vinyl Siding Needs to Be Cleaned
Unlike wood, vinyl brings with it a consistent need to be cleaned. While cleaning vinyl siding isn’t especially hard and can keep your house looking fresh for longer, the mere need to clean can be a turn-off for homeowners. The reason vinyl needs to be cleaned is that, if left untreated, mold can grow on your siding. To make sure mold doesn’t damage your vinyl to the point of it needing replacement, you will need to invest time into cleaning your siding with a washcloth or pressure washer.
Pro: Vinyl Siding Is Durable
Once you get vinyl siding, it will last for a very long time and will withstand many different weather conditions. Of course, durability will increase with the quality of the vinyl, so if you want to be certain, you should only be looking at thick vinyl with chemical additives. In the best-case scenario, you can install vinyl siding, not touch it for 40 to 50 years (outside of cleaning, of course) and it will still get the job done. Sure, this isn’t always the case and your vinyl will look marginally worse over time, but there are very few materials out there that can last that long.
Con: Vinyl Is Bad for the Environment
As far as having a bad carbon footprint goes, vinyl isn’t doing the world any favors. It is produced with high volumes of chlorine gas and many of its components have been shown to be carcinogens. It is also incredibly hard to recycle and dispose of without ending up in a landfill, which makes it a controversial material that might turn potential buyers off.
Pro: Vinyl Siding Is Versatile
These days, vinyl is available in more colors than ever before which gives you absolute reign over how your home’s exterior looks. There are many styles and aesthetic textures of vinyl which can imitate pretty much any material, such as wood.
Con: Vinyl Expands and Contracts Based on the Temperature
If you take a standard, 12-foot piece of vinyl siding, it can be over half an inch shorter on a very cold day than it is on a hot one. This creates a dilemma for design and installation that requires you to make sure each piece is able to slide at least half an inch after you install it.
Bottom Line: Vinyl is cheap, durable and versatile but tricky to install, clean and dispose of
At the end of the day, you probably won’t regret going with vinyl siding. Although it is far from the perfect material, all of its pitfalls can be answered for by the money you save and damage and maintenance you avoid.
However, if some of these cons are enough to put you off, that is totally understandable. The right material depends on the context of your home as well as the qualities you value. If time and money aren’t an issue, it might be smart to go with something greener and higher value.